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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Destination Disney- Pin Trading

My friend Heidi at Reviews and Reflections is asking questions about pin trading for this week's Destination Disney topic.  My kids LOVE pin trading, so this was a topic I couldn't pass up.  Here are her questions:

•Do you (or your kids) trade pins?

All of my kids are into pin trading.  In fact, that is their greatest disappointment with our passes expiring-the "other park" that we are getting passes for doesn't do pin trading-at least not that I know of. 

•Where/How do you store your pins?

Storing our pins...the girls have hats with bands on them that they put the pins on.  Mimi bought hers at Animal Kingdom and it came with pins so that was a great deal-a hat and 6 pins for $25-minus 10% passholder discount! 

Sari had a denim hat and I took fleece and made a band to go around it and stitched it down every inch and a half or so (basically where the fleece changes color).  She can pin a pin or two in each spot. 

The BEAUTIFUL thing about the hats is that the pin backs are protected and so they tend not to fall off.  If they do though, the pin and/or back falls into the brim.  The girls have never lost a pin.

Then there's the boys. I made them bags to keep their pins on AND store the things we take to Disney regularly (i.e. water bottles, a sandwich, a snack). ) I made my nephews bags too and Bam Bam uses his at Disney). The bags are flannel, and roughly 6x9ish with a flap that folds over to close it and a long strap so they could be worn like a messenger bag. I intended them to keep the pins on the flap, again so that the backs were not rubbing against their bodies all day long and therefore falling off. They worked GREAT...until TJ took his off on Thunder Mountain (why I will NEVER know) and put it in the storage compartment, and then forgot to get it at the end of the ride. The next guest suddenly found themselves the owners of an almost complete collection of Lanyard pins. It was a SAD, SAD night!!! Scott recently stopped bringing his-I suspect the last time he "cleaned" his room he stashed it somewhere and can't find it, of I would have included a much better picture than the ones below of TJ's now lost bag.

•Do you have a favorite pin or set of pins?

TJ loves the ones that look like pin lanyards and has the whole collection.  The girls tended toward princess/fairies.  Scott likes the pirate pins.
•Do you purchase pins in the parks or elsewhere?

Mimi bought her first pins with her hat, but with four kids who don't have expendable income I had to find another solution.  I feel like a traitor, but ebay was my best friend!  You can buy large lots of pins for an average of about $1 a pin including shipping!!!.  I used them as incentives/rewards for doing work around the house or homeschooling achievements, and that worked really well for us.  It was also great to just have random pins that the kids didn't buy themselves because they weren't attached to them and were happy to trade.  There were days I SWEAR we traded with every cast member we saw!

•How long have you been doing pin-trading and how did you get started?
Since Mimi bought her hat, which she did with her birthday gift card 2 years ago.

We have loved pin trading.  Especially since Cast Members HAVE to trade with you.  The kids love the challenge of seeing what each CM had to offer, and it really helped them learn to approach and speak to strangers respectfully (only with Cast Members-we didn't try trading with just random strangers unless they initiated it) and make eye contact and use good manners so that was a happy bonus.
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Still Catching Up

Here are some more random pictures and soundbites from our life ;-).

A local town hosted its first ever "hat walk".  I got very few pictures, and most of them were not of my girls-BAD mom!  Here are a few I did snap.
Sari and her friend K strolled hand in hand

Mimi and L were inseparable

Mimi holding our raffle tickets.  She won a poster.

The walk as it got started.  The lady with the red hat won overall.
As a family, we won second place for our hats/outfits and got a book on the history of the town.  I wish I had a better picture of Mimi-she put a lot of effort into her attire.  If you look closely at her hat brim though, you will see a ridge that runs around it in the middle of the brim.  The hat was hanging up, and when Mimi got it down she slipped and the brim caught on a hanger and the WHOLE outer 1 1/2 inches ripped off!  I spent that morning hand sewing her brim back on, which was necessary because it was her Easter hat...but Easter hadn't happened yet.  Nana would NOT have understood how the hat got ruined before the event she was meant to wear it at.

Year after year, our yard is infested with Eastern Lubber Grasshoppers.  They tend to "locally infest" meaning they like our yard and they are happy to just live here and eat my greenery to shreds.  And while I tend to take a very passive view toward critters outdoors-that is after all THEIR home- with these critters it is all out war.  In their full grown size, they have no predators.  They taste awful and hiss, and secrete a yucky bubbly stuff and make a HORRIBLE crunch if you step on them-as me how I know.  Their one redeeming factor is that the younger nymphs are pretty.  They are black with neon stripes down them-red, or orange, or yellow.  Which doesn't stop us from killing them in droves, but the other day I snapped these pictures before they went to meet their maker.  (It was, after all, them or my rosebush.)

Speaking of critters, it is spring, so the outdoor critters are busy, well, getting busy...if you know what I mean.  Our recent escapee indoor (now outdoor) cat got busy with about half the town, and of course ended up preggers.  Her name is Noel, and we named her that because she was born exactly a week before Christmas.  So in keeping with tradition, she decided to pop her kittens out exactly a week before Easter...meaning my wee hours of Palm Sunday were spent sitting on a cold bathroom floor with a laboring cat.  in the end we have 3 kittens (and if you are local we will have them available for free around the end of June).  Here are a few newborn pics.

There is one orange one, one all white one, and one that was born white, but now has a black nose, black tipped ears, a grey tail, and I'm thinking her feet will turn too.  They are almost 2 weeks old now-I'll have to get some new pictures posted! 
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Hey Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! Level 1 Worktext Review


So I'm a nerd.  Really.  I like to really study the Bible.  You know- read it, look up cross references, and especially look up what the words mean in their original language.  So that's why I was very excited to receive Level 1 of Hey Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! by Greek 'n' Stuff.

Hey Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! Level 1 Worktext was written by Karen Mohs and is a very easy, very simple way to learn the 24 letters on Koine Greek (the Greek used in Bible times).  The Level One Worktext teaches one letter at a time.  The instruction focuses on how to properly write the letter as well as its name and the sound that it makes.  After each new letter is taught, practice exercises reinforce the writing and sounds of all the letters previously learned, so there is plenty of repetition.  Flash card templates are also provided.  The four lessons at end of the book teach students to write a very short Bible verse in Greek as well.  This book is available for $14.95, although the higher levels cost slightly more.

The Pros:  This is probably the easiest way to "learn" a foreign language that I've seen.  I just copied pages to put in their workboxes and they did them.  Of course, it's only teaching the alphabet, but since Greek letters are very different from our letters, there really is a lot to learn.  I would be interested in seeing how much a student is really capable of reading in Greek after completing the upper levels as well check out the sample pages HERE-it looks like they cover a LOT!. 

The Cons:  I mentioned I'm a nerd in the beginning because I enjoy the idea of learning how to read the Greek words for myself, but I'm not really sure that is a skill very highly in demand or very necessary for most homeschoolers to acquire.  But that is no reflection on the curriculum itself.  I would say this level is very, VERY simplistic-perhaps insultingly so for older students although it is foundational.  (The suggested age is "students with pencil and paper skills" but the optional accompanying reader is preschool and up.)  But it also works, so maybe simplistic is good. 

The Bottom Line:  If you are interested in your children learning Greek, whether it was so that they could one day study the New Testament in its original language or whether it was to gain a  better grasp on our own language by learning Greek roots to our words, I would say this curriculum does that very painlessly and fairly inexpensively.  And I know even I learned something.  I had learned the Greek alphabet in my sorority days, but apparently we did not learn the correct pronunciation of several letters, nor did I know how to write any of them in the lower case (although I have the upper case down-who says sororities aren't educational, LOL).  You can view sample pages for all the levels (1-8) HERE and if you do that, you will see that the higher levels really start teaching your children to read and translate Greek.

To check out Greek 'n' Stuff's complete Greek curriculum or  to see their Latin curriculum or Bible studies, go HERE.  To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say (some people reviewed upper levels of the Greek program while others got the Latin program or the Bible studies), go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received the Hey Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! Level One Worktext for free.  That book was the only compensation I received for my honest review.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Sari-ism I keep forgetting to share

A few weeks back, as we were driving home from church, Sari told me, "Mommy, we learned about IKEA today."
"You did?"

 "Yeah, you know, 'Ikea was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he...'."


It's made funnier by the fact that we jokingly call ourselves Calvary Chapel of IKEA because so much of our church's furniture comes from there.
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Easter-the clothes

Twice a year, Easter and Christmas, Nana and PopPop outfit my kids in really fancy clothes.  This year was a first-no matching dresses for the girls.  Unfortunately, the boys were still matchy-matchy.  That will have to end with this holiday as it is NOT cool (among his peers) for an almost 14 year old to match his younger brother...fortunately, no one made fun of him, so it was all good. 

The best thing about her dress?  It has a twirly skirt.  She'd sleep in it if she could.  She loves it SOOOO much.

We had another first this time- Scott's pants had to be special ordered from Land's End.  His size?  29x33.  Yep, those are some seriously LONG legs that boy has.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Where to even start...

Hi, I'm One Blessed Mamma, and I've totally lost my addiction to blogging.  Once upon a time I had a blog that was remotely interesting, LOL.  Currently, other than my reviews, my blog has been rather, well B-O-R-I-N-G.  The thing is, my memory is so horrible, if I don't blog about it almost when it happens, I don't remember it later.    Thank God He has given me a passion for photography or I'd never know what happened even a week ago!

So here, in no apparent order, is a random review of the past few weeks.

RM's baby sister turned one and we got to go to her birthday party at her Gram's beautiful house to celebrate.  It's fun to see her toddle all around.  I even got to hold her in my arms and rock her to sleep ;-).  Below are pics of Sari, RM, and her little sister R.

The following weekend, we went to a "Before the Bunny" celebration at the church some of our friends go to .  My friend (let's call her Strawberry Shortcake) was in charge of the whole thing, and it was great.  Here are some pics:
Sari and E in the 3-legged race.  They almost won, but fell just before the finish line.

TJ in the Peep eating contest.  He won by one bite.

Sari shows off her pretty face paint
AWANA had a yard sale, and the two boys went to go help set up.  When I went to pick them up, Sari set her sights on a bike-a two wheel bike- and was quite emphatic that she wanted it.  We raided daddy's quarters and bought it for her.  She learned to ride it within 24 hours with very little help from me. 

Our Disney passes are expired now.  We crammed in one last visit before that happened.  Mimi really wanted to see Fantasmic, so that was our main goal, but we also had time to take in 2 other things-the Great Movie Ride, where an old friend of mine was our "Bandit" which was very exciting, and the animation "learn to draw a character" thing.  Below are the results from that-this session's character was Donald Duck. 

We waited about an hour and a half for Fantasmic.  Below you can see a sweet moment with TJ and Sari occupying the time with my phone.

It got a little chilly when the sun went down, so Scott shared his jacket.

Okay, that's it for now.  I have tons more to update, but I'm tired ;-).  It will wait until tomorrow!
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Friday, April 22, 2011

See The Light Art Class Review


My oldest 3 children have all benefited from some fabulous art classes when they were younger.  But the medium they used was pastels, and while their artwork is amazing, the techniques used with chalks you can blend are different from those you use to make a pencil drawing, so we were very excited to have the chance to take a look at See The Light.


See The Light is a Christian art curriculum that features Master Artist Pat Knepley giving relatively short, detailed instruction on art fundamentals with a goal of "Drawing children to Him".  The DVD we received to review featured the first four lessons:
Lesson One covers the Tools of the Trade
Lesson Two is called It All Starts with a Line and covers the basics of line drawing
Lesson Three covers Contours and Composition-how to draw an accurate outline of something and then how to place it (compose it) in a pleasing way that conveys where the object is in space.
Lesson Four instructs students to Draw What You See-not what you know.
There is also a bonus lesson on chalk pastel drawing taught by Gloria Kohlmann.  She takes students through drawing a scene from their "The Crossmaker" DVD.  Being pastels, my daughter was immediately drawn to trying it.  Here is her finished product:

The total curriculum for See The Light art lessons covers 36 lessons for one year (with year two in the planning phase).  The DVDs are available for $99, or an online subscription is available for $10 a month (with four new lessons- plus all the previous ones- available each month).  You can find a list of what the rest of the lessons cover HERE.
Mimi's shoe drawing

The Pros:  Lessons are short-roughly 15 minutes- and include very specific and easy to follow instruction.  Students are taught what they need to know to be successful, but the content is definitely geared to students aged 1st grade and up.  The instructors are positive and encouraging and my kids enjoyed the lessons- even my "just turned 6" year old.  The supplies you need to begin are basic-pencil, paper, colored pencils, etc.  A charcoal pencil, a kneadable eraser, and some art paper is about as specific as it gets-at least in the beginning.  There is no workbook, no specific practice exercises-just watch the video and do what she does.

The cons:  Call me old fashioned, but for as "relaxed" a homeschooler as I tend to be, I would think art education would do better with some practice in between the lessons.  And I'm sure in theory the See The Light folks expect that the students will practice, but without specific assignments, art instruction challenged parents might find themselves like me-without a clue what to do next-except watch the next lesson.  And one 15 minute lesson a week does not make for much in the way of art instruction.  At least not compared to the 1 1/2 hour weekly lessons my kids took.  On the other hand, this is a really, really easy way to do art since it does not take much from the parent to make it happen.
TJ's shoe drawing

The bottom line:  I'm very conflicted on this one.  I really like the lessons, and I really love the heart of the company.  Really.  And the future lessons that I wasn't given to look at seem to carry forward all the things I like so much about the lessons I DID get to see.  But the lessons are very short compared to "in person" instruction and there is no opportunity for individual instruction since the teacher is a DVD.  The lack of practice lessons (i.e. homework or additional things to do to practice the concepts taught) bothers me because I am not an artist at all, and one reason for buying an art curriculum would be for them (the art  curriculum people) to do the work in terms of coming up with assignments.  Price wise, $99 seems like a lot to me, but it is for a whole year.  My children's art classes were $60/month (each), so comparatively the DVDs are a good deal.  I guess the bottom line is to see for yourself.  The first few lessons (the ones I reviewed) are available free to watch on the See The Light website or you can even sign up for them to send you the same DVD I got for FREE.  That's probably the best way for you to decide if this curriculum is right for you.    In closing, I'll share MY picture with you because I am NOT an artist, and I was able to draw this just following their instruction!

To check out See The Light and view your free lessons or order your DVD, go HERE.  To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free DVD of the first 4 lessons to watch in order to give my unbiased opinion.  That DVD was the only compensation I received.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Destination Disney- Character Meet and Greets

My friend Heidi over at Reviews and Reflections has chosen Character Meet and Greets as this week's Destination Disney theme.  Here's what she has to say: 
Share with us your favorite locations to meet the characters, your best experiences with the characters, and (of course) pictures with the characters! Also, if you have a list of characters that you’d like to meet, or you have special tips on where to find some of those more elusive characters, do share!

Boy, character meet and greets have come a LONG way at Disney in recent years.  Many of the old "rules" about the characters are gone, and now, you can find characters almost all day long at  published times and in fixed locations.  I have to say, as a mom, I LOVE these changes!  And you know what's coming next?

Wait for it...

wait for it...

FAST PASSES for character meet and greets.  Really.  At least that's what we were told at Magic Kingdom last time we were there.  But on to Heidi's questions :-).

Our favorite locations for finding the characters varies, but I have to say that the Animation Tour at the Hollywood Studios is one of the best kept secrets.  The lines are never very long, and the variety of characters is endless-  everyone from Flynn Rider to Mary Poppins to Frozone. 

Just behind the bathrooms at Space Mountain is a lesser known spot to catch different characters, and you can sometimes find them dancing in front of the stage in Tomorrowland. Buzz likes to hang out right there at the exit to his ride.

The alcove inside Innoventions to the right of Club Cool is a great place to see the Fab Five all in one fell swoop.
Sari and Minnie
 Above is a rare picture- ME with a character.  Somehow Goofy seemed appropriate for my sister and I

Oh, and Disney also has the BEST Santa visits ;-). 

Below are random pictures from different park visits:

Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater at the Studios

Goofy and Pluto at Animal Kingdom-Dinoland.  These two were the BEST character experience we have EVER had-so "in character" and playful!

Duffy at Epcot near the bridge to Mexico
That's it for now.  I have a bunch more, but they are on my external hard drive and I'd have to track them down...and it's already past my bed time ;-).
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